Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Watch List: Clarence Aaron

Jennifer Lawinski, at Fox News, has finally put together a piece on Clarence Aaron - with links to two previous stories on Aaron (see also our Pardon Watch List). Aaron's application for a commutation of sentence was rejected by George W. Bush and he must wait one year before filing again.

In this piece, Lawinski focuses on what she sees as "reason to be optimistic" that clemency will be extended by Barack Obama. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama called on Congress to "revisit" sentencing guidelines that were established during 1980s. In an April congressional hearing, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer announced that the Justice Department endorsed elimination of the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Eric Sterling, former counsel for the House Committee on Judicial Affairs and president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, says he thinks Obama will pardon small-time drug offenders serving harsh sentences, but not any time soon.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders also thinks a commutation of sentence for Aaron "should be more likely" with Obama. But Saunders - who is aware of this blog - notes Obama has been "lax," failing, so far, "to issue a single pardon or commutation." As a result, when it comes to presidential pardons, Saunders says Obama may "be more like Bush than expected." See story here.

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